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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tin Can Trust by Los Lobos

Too often a collection of songs is more important than the songs themselves. For their best batch of original tunes since 2001’s Good Morning Aztlan, Los Lobos lays this convention aside. The band stays in finest form when they keep things simple for us. All they need to do to uncork the magic is focus on uncomplicated song structures, revisit poignant themes with no-nonsense riffs, and it's all over before anyone knows what happened. Los Lobos writes songs that go beyond just sounding good, the contents of which are filled wide with relevance and imagination. Their songs tell a story of what it must be like to head off to the bank first thing with your tin can of coins and realize what you don’t have by the time you corralled a runaway quarter on the landing by the stairs. The song is deeper than just that; how cool to connect on multiple levels. Trust was pieced together from recording studios across the US; no big surprise given the band’s hectic road schedule. But instead of sounding fractured and bumpy, Tin Can sounds smooth and taut due to the strength of the writing. Their ability to tell clear concise stories lies seemingly within strands of T1 fiber optics connecting the start of history to present life. “The Lady and the Rose,” a song of faith and struggle is destined to find its way into their tradition-rich acoustic show. “On Main Street” is a groovy 70s sounding Saturday morning jaunt down to the bakery and hardware store for your wife. "Jupiter or the Moon" is like the vaunted creeper buzz. It hits you when you're least expecting. The blues have been the bed rock foundation of a 35-year career and on Trust the Lobos again find ways to bring that out: here it’s the Hammond organ work of Steve Berlin and guest Rev. Charles Williams. The cover of the Dead’s “West LA Fadeway” is heavy blues worthy of comparisons to the old-school hard hitting funk of Albert King and the modern-day guitar of Buddy Guy. Cesar Rosas is the blues linchpin and one of many links into fertile musical territory. With their broad vision grounded in the blues, Rosas and company take it from that important roots strain into many directions. Rosas, their most recognizable member, strikes again with a new cumbia (Yo Canto) and a fine addition to the “runner” portion of the live show, “Mujer Ingrata.” The beauty of all this is that “Do the Murray” could be the set-ending number for the first show on any Saturday night for countless house blues bands everywhere. How grounded and universal is that? When Los Lobos dives deep and out of sight it’s perhaps too much for us to grasp (27 Spanishes). Ordinary humans have to see things in black and white to believe just a little; they can’t just feel it like is required here. When they go a little shallower, just skimming the surface of profound, Los Lobos is still better than most any other band going. Except maybe the all-time house blues band in the sky.

Tin Can Trust is available for purchase at www.loslobos.org

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